When the word codependency comes up in the therapy room, people often say “Everyone’s codependent.” And I usually agree. Really. It’s true, it seems most people have this feature to some degree. So what does this term really mean? Well, for the prefix “co”, we can use the word “together.” “Together dependency”…doesn’t sound so unhealthy.
“Together dependency” in itself is not a bad thing. It is when the duo or group is “together dependent” around an addiction and/or unhealthy relational dynamics that the problem begins. Often I use the word “interdependence” to help clarify what healthy relational dependence is. With interdependence, two or more people are working to meet many needs and are basically emotionally developed and healthy and then enlist others where needed to meet needs. That sounds like a state of emotional maturity when the word interdependence is used. So i guess that would make the word “codependency” a word used to describe relational immaturity. And truly it is.
Our societal, cultural and clinical use of the word “codependency” has gotten really worn out in the eyes of many. It seems trite now. People take it as an offensive label often. Maybe there is a way we can rework it and make it a fresh new term we can breathe new life into so that others won’t run from it. After all, people need to be “together dependent”…just not around something like addiction that drains the lifeblood out of all involved.